BELON, Pierre (c.1517-1564)

De AQUATILIBUS, LIBRI DUO. Cum eiconibus ad vivam ipsorum effigiem, quoad eius fieri potuit, expressis.

Carolum Stephanum, Paris, 1553. Pierre Gourdelle (illustrator). Oblong octavo (117 x 177 mm). pp. (32), 448, with 187 woodcuts of fish and aquatic animals, many full page, in the text. 18-19th century full vellum, spine with raised bands, third compartment with lettering: De Aquatilibus. Small wormhole to the blank lower margin of few central leaves, negligible light browning. The volume is introduced by a 17th century handwritten text on the (3) flyleaves. 20th century bookplate (Italian author Ivano Comi) with an illustration of a hippocampus on the front paste-down.  See another copy of Belon's De aquatilibus (1553) from the Convento dei Cappuccini Verona on this web site as well.

A handsome copy of the rare Latin edition.

Belon was a Renaissance scientist and based his work on true observation, rectifying what Aristotle, Oppianus, Pliny and other classical authors had written. He divided aquatic animals into two divisions, those provided with blood and those without, corresponding to the modern taxa: Vertebrata and Invertebrata. They were classified according to size, differences in the structure of the skeleton, mode of reproduction, number of limbs, body form and on the physical characteristics of the habitat (Pietsch, 1995). There are drawings of 110 species of fish. Nearly all the marine fishes are Mediterranean but there are also species of the Atlantic region obtained from the Paris market. Marine mammals, crabs, lobsters, shellfish, oysters and cockles are depicted as well. Other descriptions and drawings refer, however, to fabulous animals like the horse of Neptune, the sea monk and the sea eagle. The existence of these animals was not clearly denied by Belon. The fact that they were illustrated was enough to validate the stories which gave birth to them, and many later books reproduced them unaltered (Dance, 1978).

Price: € 7.800,00

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